Responses and adaptation strategies of commercial and charter fishers to zoning changes in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park
Fishers' responses to changes in resource access through the imposition of marine protected areas can be a critical factor influencing the likelihood of achieving management objectives. Face-to-face interviews with 114 commercial and charter fishers were conducted to investigate their responses and adaptation strategies to the increase in the size and number of no-take zones imposed by the 2004 Great Barrier Reef Marine Park zoning plan. Despite holding positive attitudes towards marine biodiversity protection, fishers were generally unsupportive of the new zoning plan 5 years after its implementation. Fishers' lack of support was related to the perception that they had not been adequately engaged in the rezoning process and the perception of significant impacts of the zoning plan on fishing businesses. Fishers generally believed that the new zoning plan had a negative impact on their access to productive fishing areas, the numbers of fish they catch, the profitability of their fishing business, and their personal income. In response to the new no-take zones, fishers tended to redistribute their fishing activity to locations closer to their home port, and to locations already known to them through their previous fishing, resulting in an increase in high density fishing locations within the park. Despite the impacts that fishers experienced, most reported that they have adapted their fishing activity and fishing business at least moderately well to the new zoning plan, suggesting that many of the impacts experienced by fishers might be short-term and may decline over time as fishers learn to adapt to the new zoning system. The information provided should prove valuable as a baseline for continued monitoring of the costs and benefits of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park rezoning into the future.
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